5 Manners that Should Never Go Out of Style

February 6, 2014  |  

Are parents still teaching their kids good manners? I certainly hope so, but I have to wonder because I come across so many kids who don’t seem to have what my grandmother referred to as “home training”. I remember being taught to speak first when I entered a room or to give up my seat for an older person when riding the bus. And the only acceptable response to an older person was a yes ma’am or yes sir. Nodding my head was not even an option.

I’m noticing that a lot of  parents consider these social courtesies to be relics from a bygone era and aren’t teaching their kids these social graces. While I consider myself to be a relatively new age parent, there are some things we need to teach our kids that just won’t go out of style–good manners being one of them. I think good manners are the essential building blocks for teaching kids good presentation skills that they’ll need later on life.

Here are five key manners I don’t think should every go out of style.

Speak First When You Enter a Room

When my kids are entering a place from the outside, they know to speak the other people first. A simple hello will suffice. Not only is this the courteous thing to do, but it’s also a good way to get them accustomed to making their presence known when they enter a room. This is not always something easy for shy kids, but a polite hello doesn’t hurt. When they’re older, they’ll be accustomed to establishing their presence, which is needed in order to effectively network. Networking always comes in handy.

Respond With Words

More and more, I see a lot of kids responding to parents and adults with head nodding. At best, they’ll respond with a “yeah” or “naw”. Growing up, we responded with yes ma’am or no ma’am. I know this is always a big hit with older people and I can’t tell you how many opportunities my kids have gotten from responding with good manners when spoken to. At minimum, I say kids should respond with either a “yes” or “no” and keep the slang for when they’re with their friends. By encouraging kids to respond with their words, especially to those in a position of authority, we’re making sure they’re communicative, responsive and confident. This sets a firm foundation to introduce maintaining eye contact and other skills they’ll need when they’re out in the real world.

Treat Elders With Respect

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat their elders. There is so much we can learn from previous generations, so I encourage parents to make sure their kids are mindful of older people when in their presence. If one of my kids is on the bus and older person gets on, they know to give up their seat. From time to time, I have them check on our elderly neighbors, because it’s the right thing to do, and the life lessons they get from our older family members and neighbors are invaluable.  As parents, we’re going to get older, so if we instill the importance of looking after seniors while they’re young, they’ll already be in the habit when it’s time for them to look after us.

Good Table Manners

Eating dinner at the dinner table is something that’s challenging for busy families on the go, so it can be a challenge to ensure kids have good manners. I remember little nudges like, “keep your elbows off the table”, “don’t slurp”, “chew with your mouth closed”  and to this day, those things come in handy. Not to mention, if your kids are invited to eat with someone, you don’t them behaving like they eat in front of a computer every day. Practicing good table manners and etiquette is something very basic, but will come in handy. One day, they may have to close a business deal over lunch and you’ll know that at least they didn’t negotiate with their mouth full.

 Know How to Apologize

Lately, I’ve come across quite a few people who don’t know how to give a proper apology. If a kid steps on my foot on the bus, the usual response is “my bad” or “my fault”.  While there’s no need to be long winded, a simple “I’m sorry” will typically do the job. My kids are taught to assume full responsibility and give a respectful apology when they make mistakes. If it was accident, they simply say sorry and move on. The art of the mea culpa is necessary in both relationships and in the workplace. The ability to assume responsibility for mistakes and transgressions helps kids to learn the lesson and then do their best moving forward.  Helping them to admit when their wrong can go a long way when you’re trying to teach them to do what’s right.

What manners do you think are essential to your child’s future?

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